Lawyer Fee Dispute Resolution

The LSBA Lawyer Fee Dispute Resolution Program was formed to resolve legal fee disputes between attorneys and clients as well as between attorneys and other lawyers. For more information on the program, please read the guidelines below.

If you are having a fee dispute with an attorney and wish to obtain the forms, rules, and guidelines to initiate the LSBA Lawyer Dispute Resolution Program, simply download the forms from this webpage. If you would like to speak to someone about the program, please contact Shawn L. Holahan, Esq. ( (504) 619-0153) or Bridget Berins (; (504) 619-0137). Please understand that the LSBA cannot give legal advice or represent anyone in their fee dispute.

**WE'RE LOOKING FOR MORE VOLUNTEER ATTORNEY ARBITRATORS! If interested, please review this webpage, and complete & submit the fill-in-able Attorney Arbitrator Form (non fill-in form here) to us. Arbitration training for this program will be provided at a later time.**

These guidelines are designed to assist prospective parties and their attorneys by explaining the arbitration procedures set forth in the Louisiana State Bar Association Lawyer Dispute Resolution Rules and are not intended to constitute legal advice to any party or to anyone who contemplates the use of these procedures. The guidelines were developed for parties who represent themselves in an arbitration proceeding as well as those represented by counsel. The guidelines explain the procedures and answer questions regarding them but are not an interpretation of the rules or a substitute for the rules. It is recommended that prospective parties read carefully the rules as well as the guidelines.

Although most lawyer-client relationships are concluded without fee disputes, disputes and controversies will arise occasionally regarding fees. The dispute may be between the lawyer and the client, or between the lawyers who have been involved in a case. Such disputes could be resolved through the courts; however an alternative, like the LSBA's fee dispute arbitration program, exist to provide relatively quick, low cost and confidential solutions. Sometimes these alternatives are called alternative dispute resolutions. 

The LSBA's program for the resolution of legal-fee disputes provides impartial arbitration. Some local bar associations may sponsor similar programs and the LSBA encourages their use as well. In addition, several private organizations sponsor dispute resolution programs. For further information or assistance regarding the LSBA's program you may contact:

Louisiana State Bar Association

ATTN:  Attorney Fee Dispute Arbitration Program

601 St. Charles Ave.

New Orleans, LA 70130-3404

Phone: (504) 566-1600 or (800) 421-5722

Arbitration is the submission of a disagreement to one or more impartial persons (who are known as arbitrators) for a binding decision. Arbitration is intended to provide a prompt and inexpensive alternative to the court system. Parties should recognize that in choosing arbitration as a means of resolving a dispute, they generally give up their rights to pursue the matter through the courts.
You can begin the process by completing and executing the Petition to Arbitrate and mailing the completed form with the appropriate administrative fee (check made payable to the LSBA) to us as follows:
LSBA Fee Dispute Arbitration Program
601 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, La. 70130

LSBA staff will provide assistance in determining whether the other side will agree to arbitration. Upon receipt of the names and addresses of the parties to be contacted, their telephone numbers and a brief description of the dispute, an LSBA representative will invite the other party to participate in the program under a submission. Generally, the LSBA writes to the other party and then follows up by letter within ten days. If the other party does not agree, the administrative fee will be returned to the initiating party.  
The arbitrators are individuals who are selected to decide the case. Usually, one arbitrator will decide the matter, but in some large and complex cases, there may be three. The LSBA maintains a list of people, including lawyers and non-lawyers who are qualified to serve as arbitrators. A list of several of these names will be submitted to the parties who can eliminate names from the list. The parties are asked to rank the remaining names and the LSBA will then make the selection. Arbitrators are selected by the LSBA based on the submissions of the parties; however, the appointments are made by the LSBA in its discretion. Any arbitrator may be challenged for cause, that is, an arbitrator may be removed from the case because of bias or other good reason.
The parties have the right to be represented by counsel and, although the procedures are designed to be simplified and efficient, persons with experience in legal procedure and advocacy may have some advantage over people not experienced. The LSBA does not provide lawyers for parties to the arbitration and each party is responsible for making arrangements for representation. The arbitrators are requested to conduct the proceedings in as uncomplicated a manner as possible and to avoid unnecessary technicalities. Some parties choose to be unrepresented; however, each party must decide individually.
Informally. The hearings are intended to be as informal as possible but broadly based upon the judicial model. Formal rules of evidence are inapplicable and the arbitrator makes rulings on the admissibility of evidence based on common sense and fairness. All parties are given the opportunity for a full hearing.

All proceedings are confidential. The hearings are not open to the public or anyone who is not involved in the dispute. Everyone connected with the arbitration is instructed not to reveal anything about the arbitration to any non-party.  

In the absence of special arrangements, no transcript or recording of the proceeding will be made. Any party desiring a transcript or recording must make appropriate arrangements and bear the costs, which, in the absence of agreement, shall not be taxable. If any transcript or recording is made, a copy shall be furnished to the arbitrators upon request and to the other parties for review and/or copying at the other party's expense.


The parties are encouraged to cooperate in the exchange of pertinent information and documents prior to any hearing; however formal discovery is generally discouraged and is allowed only by agreement or by order of the arbitrator.

The arbitrator will render a written decision within thirty days following the close of the hearing; however the arbitrator will not usually state the reasons for the decision.

The decision of the arbitrator is final. There is no appeal provided for. The Louisiana Arbitration Law (La. R.S. 9:4201, et seq.) provides limited means of vacating an arbitration award; however the vacating of an award requires judicial involvement and is not provided for under the LSBA program.

Once an arbitration award is made, through a relatively simple legal proceeding provided for in the Louisiana Arbitration Law, it can be given the same effect as a judgment of a court and is enforced in the same way that a judgment is enforced. The LSBA can provide no assistance in the enforcement of any award.
One of the important goals of arbitration is to minimize the cost of resolving the dispute. Nevertheless, costs are associated with the process and, to a large extent, each case is unique. 

The following is intended to give broad guidance for the approximation of costs:

Administrative Fee
A nonrefundable administrative fee as outlined below must be submitted to the LSBA along with the arbitration demand or submission agreement.

Attorney/Client Disputes
  • If the amount in dispute is under $10,000, the administrative fee for each party is $50.00.
  • If the amount in dispute is over $10,000, the administrative fee for each party is $100.00.

Attorney/Attorney Disputes
  • Fee disputes between attorneys will require each party to remit $100.00 for an administrative fee, regardless of the amount in dispute.  

Arbitrators Fees
In lawyer-client disputes, arbitrators usually serve without fee. In other cases the arbitrators are entitled to a reasonable fee (usually $75 per hour) established by the LSBA and paid by the parties. 

Other Expenses
Other expenses may be required by the arbitrator to be paid by one or both of the parties such as travel expenses and other expenses of the arbitrator. 

The LSBA may require advance deposits by the parties to cover the anticipated costs of the arbitration. 

Postponement Fee
It is quite time consuming and inconvenient to the parties and the arbitrator(s) to schedule and reschedule hearings. Under Program Rule 24, a Postponement Fee of $250.00 must accompany each request for postponement.

Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600